Unbelievable. Incredible. Inspirational.
You can insert whatever word you like to describe Phil Mickelson’s stunning US PGA Championship victory on Sunday.
In fairness to him it was not altogether unsurprising when you consider the changes he made in terms of losing some weight and bulking up.
It was deliberate on Mickelson’s part as he wanted to turn the clock back a couple of years and get back to hitting bombs as he called it.
With the longest drive of the fourth round – a mammoth 366 yards at the 16th – at Kiawah Island on Sunday, it showed his conscious effort to change up his game had paid off at the perfect moment.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) May 24, 2021
While it was wonderful to see, I can’t say I was completely surprised. He had won a couple of Senior Tour events and, if there is one thing which has never been in doubt, it is Mickelson’s short game and touch around the green.
The history books will show he is the oldest man to win a major, but he is no typical 50-year-old. We’re talking about a man who had won five majors prior to claiming his sixth title at the weekend.
The biggest change, however, wasn’t shedding a few pounds or getting stronger, it was the renewed mental focus.
You can have all the fitness and strength you like, but if your concentration is not there then you have little chance of being successful.
I can remember vividly the Mickelson who played the wild shots and hit silly putts on greens while the ball was still moving. That guy was nowhere to seen at Kiawah Island.
The Mickelson who played in the US PGA Championship was confident, comfortable and experienced. He played as if he was 40, not 50, as he kept calm and focused.
Even when he hit a bad shot, he did not become flustered. He kept his cool and closed out victory with all the composure you would expect of a multiple major champion.
Mickelson has always been an extrovert character, but one thing he is not is a fish out of water. What he did on Sunday was brilliant, but it was not uncommon. That experience is still there and he used all of it to close out victory with the minimum of fuss.
Win No. 45. 🏆pic.twitter.com/XiHcYMYyht
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 23, 2021
Coming just a week after Richard Bland’s British Masters win at the Belfry at the age of 48 and it’s clearly been a motivating couple of weeks for us members of the old guard. Long may it continue.
No love lost between Koepka and DeChambeau
I did not think anything would eclipse the sight of Phil Mickelson rolling back the years, but I had not reckoned with Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
For those who haven’t seen it – and there cannot be many of you by this point – it’s a priceless minute. Koepka was giving an interview, thankfully pre-recorded, after his third round at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, when the fun started.
Koepka commented on the conditions and how hard it was to read at times when DeChambeau walks by in the background muttering what sounds like “maybe you should hit it on the right line.”
Koepka lost has train of thought, swore, apologised and swore again before the interview was cut as everyone involved prepared to start over.
Watch Brooks Koepka’s interview below. Please note it contains some strong language.
Clearly there is no love lost between these two, but the incident has undoubtedly been the talk of the locker room here in Denmark this week on the European Tour.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who have sent me the video and both Eddie Pepperell and I were laughing out loud at different tables after watching it.
There are big personalities on tour and clearly we are not all friends. There are guys who treat this as strictly business as others who will enjoy a pint together after a round. It takes all sorts.
But I have no doubt after watching the comedy gold between Koepka and DeChambeau that the chances of them going for a drink together in the clubhouse anytime soon are remote.
Harrington right to focus on Ryder Cup captaincy
We had our own man rolling back the years at Kiawah Island in European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, who finished two under par for the tournament after a terrific week.
I note Padraig was quick to rule out the prospect of him taking on a playing role in the Ryder Cup later this year and I think that is sensible on his part.
It has become clear that it is a near-impossible task trying to be a playing captain given the demands the match now places on a skipper.
The fact Padraig was playing with Shane Lowry helped and the two of them clearly had fun out there, but I’m sure the captain was even more pleased to see Shane, Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Matthew Fitzpatrick all up doing well.
Seeing so many Europeans high on the leaderboard in the United States augurs well for Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September.